The Sydney Swans have suffered their third home defeat this season after a shock 2 point loss against the much improved North Melbourne Football Club at the SCG on Saturday night. In a compelling, tight game the Kangaroos were able to hold off a Swans challenge in a thrilling final quarter.
The game ended with a controversial goal decision hanging over the post-game discussions. In the first quarter North Melbourne’s Billy Hartung snapped a goal which under further analysis appeared that Swans defender Jarrad McVeigh may have touched the ball. There was no “stoppage” review in that the game was halted before a decision was made, but the understanding is that every score is reviewed. In this instance the review adjudicator deemed the 6 points would stand and ultimately would contribute to the victory for North.
The win for the Kangaroos saw them consolidate their place in the Top 8 of the AFL ladder, whilst Sydney was fortunate to hang on to eighth spot. Not taking anything away from North Melbourne, but the loss was all the more bewildering for Sydney after a superb away win to Geelong last week. The Swans were expected to win and dropping another home game will not be beneficial for their double chance aspirations.
After a disappointing loss last week to Port Adelaide, Brad Scott publicly stated he wanted his team to start better and it was immediately apparent the Kangas were switched on. They had much of the early ball and were effective in their disposal. Shaun Higgins who was making his return after suffering concussion a few weeks ago, was getting plenty of the football. Another player to return to the Roos was Mason Wood. He kicked North’s first goal and looked threatening around the packs. Callum Sinclair would kick Sydney’s first goal and would be his side’s leading disposal getter (9) in the first term. Heath Grundy was prominent at the back with 8 disposals including 4 marks as he lead the Swans out of defense. It was an excellent opening effort by North Melbourne as they took a handy 8 point buffer into the first break.
The second term was played on similar terms as neither side could gain a clear ascendancy. North continued to pressure Sydney and were able to stop several attacking drives. Ben Brown was used as a tall at the back and took some strong marks to steady the North Melbourne defense. It was an interesting move considering he kicked North’s first goal of the second quarter, yet it was an astute decision by coach Scott. Higgins, Trent Dumont and Ben Jacobs saw plenty of the football as North were able to maintain their lead (7 points) going in to the sheds.
The interesting point about this game was that usual key personnel, such as North Melbourne’s Ben Brown and Todd Goldstein weren’t the main factor behind their team’s winning effort. It was players such as Mason Wood, Jed Anderson, Sam Wright and Tom Dumont who leading the charge. They continually pestered the Swans around the ball and didn’t allow Sydney any leeway towards goal. Josh Kennedy continued his improved form, along with Jarrad McVeigh. Kennedy worked extremely hard in the midfield and applied several tackles in his effort to get the ball. Ben Cunnington was similar in his approach for North Melbourne. His contested ball work in the second half of the game made a tremendous difference in the result. In a thrilling last quarter, North would clutch the game thanks to a goal from Mason Wood who was North’s best on ground player with 4 crucial goals. Sydney had a chance to win the game as they manically tried to find an avenue to goal. Tom Papley had a set shot of about 40 metres out and on an angle, but was unable to kick accurately and the Roos went out winners by 2 points.
SYDNEY 2.1 4.4 6.8 9.12 (66)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 5.5 7.10 9.14 (68)
Sydney: Hayward 3, Sinclair, Towers, Fox, Parker, Jones, Lloyd
North Melbourne: Wood 4, Hartung, Higgins, Brown, Simpkin, Cunnington
Sydney: Kennedy, Grundy, McVeigh
North Melbourne: Higgins, Wood, Cunnington
North Melbourne: Vickers-Willis (knee)
UPDATE: Bad news for Ed Vickers-Willis with official conformation that he re-injured his posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. No time for his return has yet to be determined.
Umpires: Hayden Gavine, Mathew Nicholls, Robert Findlay